Sunday, January 19, 2014

Flying pig construction for papier-mache

My pig "Daisy"
Flying pigs are coming to life!  Students in my after school program DragonWing Arts  have began construction of piggies in preparation for papier-mache.  (They have not yet sprouted wings.)
For those of you who struggle with papier-mache, plastic bag construction offers enormous flexibility, and it is ridiculously easy.  The pig is a great project for a first-timer, since a bread bag is not too big, and a great shape to work with.

First you stuff the bag with crunched up newspaper, one page at a time.   Even a smallish bag from a loaf of bread, such as we are using here, will take quite a few pieces of newspaper to fill, since you want it fairly firm.   When full, the end of the bag gets tied, rubber-banded, twist-tied, or taped (whatever works!)  You won't see that end on the piggies in these photos, since their snouts have been built over the taped bag ends. 
The piggie above looks like he's on the run, or perhaps his arms and legs are stretched out Superman-style.  After all, he will be flying!

Masking tape is used to shape the bag as desired.  For the pigs, that simply means taping in any corners, but if you were making, for example, a bug, you might want to tightly tape a 'waist' to separate body parts.  This process of taping bags was used  for other papier-mache student work I've shown you over the years.  Look at these posts to find a Laurel Burch style cat, and a frog (among other things) made by former students, and an assortment of critters made by me as samples, including a lizard found in  this post.
 The legs were each made from 1/2 toilet paper roll, and the snout was another portion of a toilet paper roll.  The ends were cut with a number of slashes to 'flower out' the end for handles for taping.  The kids were instructed to tape around them in a tick-tac-toe shape.   This holds it on the best.  Then additional tape was added as needed.  They were stuffed with newspaper and the ends were taped over.
The ears were cut from cereal box cardboard, though the piggie above does not yet have his ears attached.  We cut the ears bigger than needed, slashed them once and overlapped the parts to form a curve, and hot glued the overlap.  The bottoms were slashed once again to form tabs to attach them to the piggie.  All the slashing, folding, and taping is the reason you need to start with such a large ear shape!

We will be using cereal box cardboard to add the wings, after the piggie has been papier-mache'd.  This will make the papier-mache process go more quickly.   You can see some finished papier-mache flying pigs, made by my former 5th graders, here.   

Next week, my students will be embarking on gooey papier-mache, my personal favorite thing ever!  In the meantime, the pigs already have names such as Piggly Wigglebottom (which will probably change several times before completion).

By the way, I'm often asked why I don't like using balloons for papier-mache.  I've told the story here on the blog before, but here it is again:  My town has a HUGE annual hot air balloon festival every year, so one year we decided to start in the fall with papier-mache hot air balloons.  At the end of the day there were more than 40 wet projects on my windowsills, in my drying cabinet, and on the counter.  I was in school quite late that afternoon, all alone except for a custodian, when I heard gunshots.  Or at least that's what I thought.  One after another, the balloons starting popping.  I'm assuming it was due to an end of the day temperature change in the building, perhaps?  I nearly jumped out of my skin!  More than 1/2 the projects popped, and I spent about another hour, blowing up new balloons into each one of the collapsing art projects.  I absolutely NEVER want to do that again!!!!  Boy were my lungs tired!
 Has anyone else ever had a balloon experience like mine?

8 comments:

  1. Yes! Misery! I left wet balloons covered in wheat paste/newspaper suspended from the clothesline...in the morning a few had shriveled. I had to remove the deflated balloon, insert a new one, blow it up to fit the shell and tie it off. I called this 'surgery.' Will not do again!

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    1. Ha! I can't understand why so many people sing the praises of papier-mâché over balloons.

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  2. YES! I have lots of experience with this, actually. You have to use a strong and thick balloon, not the cheapo kind. Another thing I do is have the kids work in partners to get as many layers on there as possible in one class, so that in case the balloon shrivels after 24 hours, it still has a chance of survival that a "one layer" paper mache balloon would not. I also use construction paper for this because it's thicker and then you can have the kids clearly see which layer they're on (first layer is red, second is blue, etc etc). Good luck!!

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    1. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I am a primary school teacher who has been given the task of creating dragons with her class of 10 year olds this term. Children in Queensland, Australia aren't blessed with the talents of the art specialist teacher till high school so when my current cherubs expressed a desire to create papier mache dragons I was enthused by their obvious excitement but full of trepidation at my ability to lead them to a successful artistic conclusion. I was so relieved to find your flying pigs and to read your easy to follow description of the process. Now if you could just include a tip or two (or three) on how to transform Miss Piggy into Smaug my joy will be complete. Once again, Phyl, thanks for the blog.

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    2. Oh dear; dragons with 10 year old - hmmm way more complex than piggies, I'm afraid. Especially if the kids are expecting them to look like Smaug! I'd say, figuring out a simple armature is the most important thing. Follow the link to my Pinterest page (one of the tabs on the top of the blog). Then go to my board 'Just papier-mâché, nothing else'. There are at least three totally different dragons posted that might give you some ideas, using some recyclables to create an armature. If you need more advice, please feel free to email me at plbrown3 at yahoo dot com, and I will definitely respond.

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  3. Love the pig! I've had my share of collapsing balloons. Would love to see more projects.

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    1. Thanks, Mardiroz! If you want to see more projects, scroll to the bottom of the blog, to the big 'cloud' of labels, and click on the label papier-mâché. It will bring you to every papier-mâché post I've ever written, which is a LOT!

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